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Draghi Says Russia Only Offers ‘Lies’ to Explain Gas Cuts

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(Bloomberg) -- Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Russian statements that its gas cuts to Europe are due to technical reasons are lies, a view he said is shared by several partners including Germany.

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“We have been told the reason for gas cuts across Europe is technical, but both Germany, and us, and others, believe these are lies,” Draghi told reporters after he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a visit to Kyiv with Germany’s Olaf Scholz and France’s Emmanuel Macron.

“There is a political use of gas, as there is a political use of wheat,” Draghi said.

European gas prices have surged as Moscow tightened its squeeze on gas flows to the continent, forcing consumer nations to confront the prospect of keeping their economies running without Russian gas. Gazprom PJSC lowered its supplies to Italy for a second day, according to energy operator Eni SpA.

Gazprom has cited issues with repairs of turbines produced by Siemens to explain the reduction in gas flows. Western sanctions on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine have left equipment key for the functioning of the Nord Stream gas pipeline stuck abroad.

The Kremlin said earlier Thursday that the cuts were “not deliberate.”

Italy only received 65% of requested volumes Thursday, as several companies including Engie SA, Uniper SE, RWE AG and OMV AV saw reduced supplies cut as tensions escalate between Moscow and Europe. Gazprom told Eni that lower deliveries are due to problems at the Portovaya plant, which feeds the Nord Stream gas pipeline.

Draghi said Italian gas stockpiles are at 52% and that “we are feeling safe now and for the winter” with that level.

The leaders of the European Union’s three biggest economies backed Ukraine’s efforts to join the bloc on their trip, adding momentum and a show of support in the country’s efforts to fend off Russia’s invasion.

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